What Will be Your Legacy?

I love movies.  Before the years when I had to get a summer job, I would walk to the local West Coast Video and rent movies multiple times a week.  I love getting lost in visual stories, arresting atmospheres, and conflict beyond anything I’ve experienced.  The best movies pull you out of reality and usher you into the suspension of disbelief. Take something like The Matrix for example.  That trilogy took society by storm and made people genuinely question the deeper levels of existence.  This love led me to take a semester of screenwriting in Fairfield’s MFA program and complete a full length screenplay.

I believe that movies can teach us about life.  One of the films that hits every qualification on my list is The Gladiator from the year 2000.  Russel Crowe plays Roman general Maximus, betrayed by the emperor and sold into slavery.  His family is killed and, as a gladiator fighting in the Coliseum, he works to win his freedom and get revenge. You can see the trailer below and, if you listen closely, guess at the topic of this post.

Crowe’s character says, in a classic movie speech:

“What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

As a man, this idea is important in three areas:

Father: Your children notice everything.  Sit with that for a second.  They notice every word, glance, action, and expression.  They absorb your very presence and use it to fuel their growth into adults.  They will use your example to make choices and parent their own children one day.  Your actions echo into their lives.

Husband: There’s a reason you stand in front of a pastor, priest, judge, religious official, etc. to get married.  It is a serious commitment.  As much as your children notice everything, your spouse notices even more.  I can try to hide things, but Val sees through my defenses.  We’ve loved, suffered, healed, and grown together. As men, we are told to operate on two fronts: leading and serving.  We are to guide our families and, in the same moment, show them selfless love. It is not an easy job.

Faith: Our walk with God is a marathon, not a sprint.  It is a path filled with mountains and valleys. If you don’t know God and are in the midst of your search, know this: There is an answer to your questions. There is filler to your empty spaces, as large as the universe and as intimate as the oxygen you inhale. Your choice is faith will echo for your own eternity.

As men, we are called to be servant leaders. We may suffer. We may lose everything but we can never lose hope. There is always something worth fighting for. Every day, every step, every word and deed will echo into eternity. When your time is over, what legacy will you leave?

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Soundtrack Inspiration:

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Finding Victory in the 1/3rd Life Crisis

One day you’re sitting at your desk at work and the email comes across. Layoffs, happening in an hour, and you are one.

You spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend says they are finished with you. The door shuts and you are alone. Again.

The illness is back.

The kids are crazy.

The cabinets are empty.

Or maybe you’re the opposite.

You live in a new house.

The car is waxed.

The lawn is green.

Sprinklers wisp water on Saturday mornings.

You look in the mirror and wonder:

Is this it?

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The crisis can take many forms and, as we progress through life, it can linger well past our 30’s. We live our days unsettled, searching for meaning and the security that we thought we’d find when our youth ended. We measure our faults, weigh our deficiencies, and pick out our imperfections. In the midst of the crisis, there is something to remember:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

When you face uncertainty, fall back on what you know. Remember the promises of Scripture and recall the moments your prayers were answered. Troubles will pass. The sun will rise and keep rising with each new dawn.

Make use of these moments.

Journal, draw, write, take pictures, create. Get your feelings out in some form of expression.  You’ll find it cathartic, freeing, and the weight will lift.

You’ll find freedom and that is worth it all.

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration:

Picks of the Week- 9/29/2014

Scripture: This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33: 2-3

A verse from one of my favorite books of the Bible. In this day of information, there are still unsearchable things we need to find.

Book: The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible by Mark Batterson

Batterson is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. He is the author of The Circle Maker, a book that changed my prayer life forever.  This title is his newest release about miracles happening in everyday life.  I hesitate naturally when a church leader talks about prayer as they tend to veer towards God as a slot machine in the sky. Batterson does not do this. He supports his points with solid research, examples from real life, and Biblical backing.  Check out his titles here.

 

Website: Storyline Blog

I’ve posted about Donald Miller before and his site is his blog. His thoughts are fresh, open, and honest.  If you are looking to refine your story, visit and see what he has to say.

Family Activity: Pumpkin Patch

On Saturday, we spent a few hours at a local farm while Carter and Aiden played in a hay jump, corn maze, and playground. Fall is my favorite time of year for this very reason. We make it a yearly tradition to visit Linvilla Orchards, outside of Philadelphia, to experience all a farm in the fall has to offer.

Marriage Activity: Fresh Cider

When you are at the orchards, pick up some fresh cider. When you get home, put the kids to bed and warm it up. This will be cheaper than the Starbucks version and more romantic as you recover from chasing the kids around the farm.

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:

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Redken Powder Grip 03- Gives hair a modern matte finish with amazing texture and fullness, and adds grip to prep hair for long-lasting updos, or as Val says, “backcombing in a can.”

Val’s Bag of the Week:

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Thermal ToteA classic favorite! It’s great for taking lunch on the go. Whether you need to keep your food cool or warm, it does the job. Great for school or work lunch, or for taking to a ballgame. Also great as a baby bag to keep bottles cold. Measures approx: 9.5”H x 14”W x 4.5”D  I’ve personally taken one of these for lunch to work more than once and it is a perfect fit if you must share a refrigerator with other employees. You can find it here for $18.00. You can find other specials for September and the entire new catalog for the month at Val’s personal Thirty-One site.

 

Soundtrack Inspiration: We Rejoice by Elevation Worship

If you were to give me creative control over a worship song, it would probably end up like this.  I love the energy, flow, and message.  Enjoy it!

This is Grace

It was a dark and stormy night. Thunder exploded. Wind ripped across the hillside. The lights from torches danced and struggled to survive. Flashes of lightning provided glimpses of suffering on the three faces suspended above the crowd.

The crosses were six beams of wood, bonded together two by two with the strength of the Roman Empire. Soldiers stood watch and others divided up clothes from the prisoners. You are on the right, arms and legs stretching, chest constricting, and your attention focused on the man in the center. The crowd circles around him.

When he speaks, his words carry on the breeze. The ground shakes. A small sign hangs above his head reading King of the Jews.

You can only see the side of his face, blood dripping from his brow in lines of crimson so bright it glows.

You’ve heard his story. They’ve all heard his story. Something in your heart cries out.

The air is electric. The crux of history, past, present, and future hangs in this moment.

You inhale, lunges fighting for air, and speak:

“Jesus, remember me…”

 

This man was not a:

republican.

He did not:

tithe 10% of his income.

He did not:

support the right to carry a gun.

He was not:

religious.

He never:

sat through a life group.

His Facebook page did not have 1000 friends.

His blog posts were never featured.

His tweets never trended.

His novel wasn’t in the top ten list.

His house didn’t have two floors, a large yard, a yellow lab and a white picket fence.

Sound like anyone you know?

“Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  ~Luke 23:43

This is freedom from religion. This is an encounter with the one true God, the hand of the divine ripping away the barrier to dip into our reality. This is life with the power to transform, to break chains, to destroy addictions, to save families, to change the world.

This is Grace.

~Matt

Soundtrack inspiration: A song that says it all.

 

 

The Last Word

Did you ever meet someone who just had to have the last word in any conversation? Maybe you have someone in your family like this. My oldest son is that way.  We can be telling him to do something and he’ll negotiate. If the negotiation does not go well (usually me saying, no you just need to do this) he’ll start adding in questions and phrases to make sure he is the last voice heard. I can keep going but I’ve learned to choose my battles wisely when dealing someone who has only been on this planet for five years.

In church this morning we sang a song titled The Last Word by Elevation Worship.  You can see their video below.

I love every lyric:

“Your word stands through the ages
Your voice shatters the darkness
In you we are more than conquerors
You speak strongholds surrender
Your name overcomes the enemy
In you we are more than conquerors”

There are times we can get caught in our circumstances. We try to move forward, to overcome an obstacle that seems to great, to fix a problem that seems the size of a mountain.

We know what it takes to move mountains.

We know that the last words belong to God, the beginning and the end, the light of the world that shatters the darkness. When fear sneaks in those moments, know that it does not have the last word.  When doubt nags at the back of your mind, when your past only offers pain and sorrow, know that it does not have the last word.  When you have nothing to pull from, know that you are not alone.

I believe we are here for a purpose.  Have you experienced a moment where the clouds were ripped away and divinity injected itself into your life like a bolt of lightning? Maybe it wasn’t that dramatic. Maybe it was the moment your new baby held your hand or you laughed with a friend over coffee. I believe that God has the last word, that good will win, that strongholds will surrender and that, in him, we are more than conquerors. So, as you go forward, remember who walks with you. He can change your life in an instant and your reality will never be the same.

~Matt